A Guide to Writing a Cover Letter for All Types of Job Seekers

You’ve finished your resume and polished it up, so it looks perfect for that job that’s piqued your interest. Should you add a cover letter, and if so, what should it include?

The answer is yes – and when considering its contents, think of your cover letter as an additional opportunity to present yourself as the perfect candidate for the position. If you skip this step, you’re lessening your chances of making an immediate positive impression on an employer.

The Necessary Elements

Every cover letter should be specific to the industry and the available position, but there are common elements to keep in mind as you write yours.

  • Have them at hello. Start with a strong, engaging opening statement – after you have personalized your salutation, of course – that immediately connects you to the job. Make it memorable: prove that this is not just another generic job pitch but also that your heart is really in it.
  • Sell yourself. The following paragraphs focus on the strongest achievements and experiences you have had that make you suitable for the role. Include a balance of hard and soft skills. Refer to your values and how they align with those of the company.
  • Finish strong. Be gracious as you express your thanks for the opportunity to apply. Then leave an equally professional call-to-action statement, such as “I look forward to hearing from you so we can further discuss this role and my qualifications.” Hint: There’s no need to include “references available on request” either here or on your resume. Just have them on file in case an employer asks for them.

  • And don’t forget to:

  • Include all your contact information. In addition to your formal name, give employers your phone number and email address. After all, they need to be able to reach you when they call to schedule that interview, right?
  • Keep applicant tracking systems in mind. Keywords are important on your cover letter and resume because a robotic ATS will likely review both documents before they are passed on to hiring decision-makers.
  • Keep your cover letter short and impactful. Some experts suggest doing a “brain drain” as you complete your letter. Start by simply getting all your ideas on paper. Then go through it all and cut anything that isn’t relevant, interesting, or necessary. And don’t just regurgitate what’s on your resume. It’s not a good idea to waste space or people’s time with repetitive information.

  • Are you stumped when it comes to writing your resume and/or cover letters? Is the whole idea of job hunting intimidating? If you need expert guidance with any or all of it, pick up the phone or shoot a quick online message to